HTC Vailopa "Lopa" Seti banned from Vailoatai
High Talking Chief Vailopa “Lopa” Seti has been banned from his village of Vailoatai and can no longer possess the title ‘Vailopa' following a meeting of the Vailoatai Village Council two weeks ago. According to Vailopa, the action was taken after he asked Paramount Chief Satele Galu Teutusi Satele, during the meeting, about specific expenditures listed in the ledger of the $1 million allocated to the Western District, and reported in Samoa News.
The $1million, Vailopa is referring to, is money allocated to each of the three districts, Eastern, Western and Manu’a, in 2009, to carry out capital improvement projects from the $20 Million loan the government received from the ASG Employees Retirement Fund.
Vailopa confirmed to Samoa News that he was banned from the village during the meeting, after he asked Satele to furnish financial reports of the $20,000 that was spent during their trip to Samoa for the 50 year Independence Celebration.
The high talking chief told Samoa News that he asked Satele to provide such reports so members of the village council will have an understanding of how the money was spent in Samoa.
“My village of Vailoatai has been degraded by the actions of Satele issuing checks from the $1 million in his wife’s name and his son’s name, yet that money should have gone to the capital improvement of the Western District, and this was published in the Samoa News,” he said.
According to the ledger report that Samoa News published last month, the first checks were issued in the amount of $3,040 (Check#1263/1264) to Galu Satele and Joyita Satele, with another check issued to Galu Satele in the amount of $5,000 (Check#1904) at a later date and Satele disputed all three entries. At the time, he told Samoa News that the information indicated in the ledger is inaccurate or false, and said no more.
However, he did tell Samoa News that the $20,000 that was issued to him was for the Samoa Flag Day celebration and that the village of Vailoatai was invited to be participants. Satele said that he was not aware the check received was from the Western District allocation, saying that "all this time I thought the money was from the general fund, until today, when it’s in the paper." He blamed former Gov. Togiola Tulafono on the matter.
Vailopa contradicts Satele’s story, and said that he and Satele went to then Governor Togiola seeking funds specifically from the Western District allocation to assist with their trip to Samoa’s 50 years Independence Celebration, and Togiola approved only $20,000.
He also noted that when Satele moved to ban him from the village, he too as HTC of Vailoatai also moved to ban Satele from the village.
Vailopa told Samoa News that he will take this matter to the court, because Satele cannot ban him from the village council of Vailoatai, nor the County of Tualatai.
Samoa News contacted Satele Sunday night for a comment, and Satele, in turn, invited several members of the village council, who were present at the council meeting two weeks ago, to meet with Samoa News.
Present Sunday night at the Satele guest house were Senator Tuiasina S. Esera, Tuiasina Salamo Laumoli, Vailoatai’s Village Mayor Va’alulu Moliaga and Satele, who told Samoa News that the chiefs and orators of the Vailoatai Village passed around a petition to formally ban Vailopa from the village.
According to the petition, which will be submitted to the Office of Samoan Affairs, Vailopa showed unbecoming behavior (lemafaufau) at the meeting held on April 27, 2013, which he (Vailopa) threatened to take Satele to court for banning him. The petition, which was signed by 18 Chiefs and Orators of Vailoatai, noted that this petition disallows Lopa to use the Chiefly title “Vailopa” in the village and in Tualatai County.
Samoa News asked Satele if he would make the decision in this issue given his capacity as the Secretary of Samoan Affairs, he responded no.
“It’s a conflict if I take on this matter so, the Deputy Secretary of Samoan Affairs will take on this matter and I will stay clear of this, given that it's pertaining towards my village and myself,” said Satele.
Tuiasina Laumoli and Tuiasina Esera told Samoa News that when Vailopa asked for the financial report, the committee — which was made up of several chiefs in the village — explained the spending of the funds in Samoa.
Tuiasina Laumoli said, “Satele did not have anything to do with the money, despite the check was issued in his name, however it was given to the committee who was in charge of paying for the accommodations and other means during their trip to Samoa.”